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There Isn’t Even A Correlation Between Gun Laws and Homicide Rates

This is what I have been telling you (here, here, and here). There are three principle issues in play that require distinction.

  1. The convenient conflation of homicide by gun and plain homicide. Gun grabbers almost always cite statistics for homicide by means of a gun rather than homicide by any means so that they can point to an association (we grabbed guns and there are fewer homicides by gun). Unfortunately for them, even that doesn’t always pan out.
  2. The reason they don’t cite statistics for homicide by all means in the wake of some new gun law for the purpose of placating public fear, is that it doesn’t make a hill of bean’s difference (more below).
  3. Most notably, however, is the one thing gun grabbers always ignore completely: falsification or, that the single observance of a single black swan disproves the proposition that all swans are white. In terms of guns, there are tons of places in the U.S. where gun laws are few, open carry and concealed carry are permitted, people have tons of guns, and homicide by guns or any cause are among the lowest in the country and indeed, often among the lowest on Earth. This is falsification of the proposition that easier access and more guns necessarily lead to more death.

In The Washington Post last year, Eugene Volokh demonstrates that in the case of #2, above, there isn’t even a correlation, much less any causal relationship.

There’s been much talk recently — including from President Obama — about there being a substantial correlation between state-level gun death rates and state gun laws. Now correlation obviously doesn’t equal causation; there may be lots of other factors that are the true causes of both of the things that are being measured. But if we do look for now at correlation, it seems to me that the key question should focus on state total homicide rates, or perhaps (for reasons I describe below) total intentional homicide plus accidental gun death rates. And it turns out that there is essentially zero correlation between these numbers and state gun laws.

Mr. Volokh continues, describing his methods of data analysis and their sources.

So, given this, let’s look at how jurisdiction-level homicide rates (i.e., homicides per 100,000 people) correlate with jurisdiction-level gun laws, counting the 50 states and D.C. (I use 2012 Justice Department homicide data, from the Proquest Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2015. I use the 2013 gun law scores and grades from the Brady Campaign, with low scores meaning a low level of gun restrictions and high scores being a high level. And I use an estimate of my own for D.C. based on the Brady Campaign’s criteria, since the Brady list didn’t include D.C.; I think my estimate is if anything an underestimate of D.C.’s tight gun laws, at least as of 2012-13.) I have also run the analysis using the data from the National Journal article that has recently been in the news, and the result is virtually identical.

And here’s the bottom line.

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Obvious Conclusion: zero correlation, don’t even flap your idiot jaws about causation. There is none.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

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